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Human Zoos: Europe’s dirty racist secret
03.09.2016
11:50 am

Topics:
History
Race
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:

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Brussels is the capital of Belgium. It is the major city within the nineteen municipalities that make up the Brussels-Capital Region.

Since the end of the Second World War, Brussels has been home to a large population of politicians, diplomats, civil servants, businesses and industrialists. It is closely tied to the European Union and has been dubbed the “de facto capital” of the European Union since the 1970s. It’s Europe’s Washington. DC.

Brussels is where the European Commission (that august government branch of the EU) and the Council of the European Union (the well-respected legislative body made up of those jolly executives of member states) are based. It is city that represents the humanitarian values of a civilized and prosperous Europe.

But wait.

Not so long ago, indeed within living memory, Brussels was the last bastion of a racist sideshow called the “human zoo.”

In 1958 Brussels held the first World’s Fair since the end of the Second World War. Between April and October of that year, the Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles gave testament to the shared ideals of equality and fraternity, the innovation of industry and a very real humanitarian hope for a peaceful and prosperous future.

Among the many major exhibits at Expo 58 that celebrated this hope for a better world were the massive building-cum-sculpture the Atomium—or “load of balls” as some have since described it—designed by engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André & Jean Polak; and the Philips Pavilion where composer Edgard Varèse premiered his seminal eight minute work Poème électronique—which followed a naive and simplistic narrative of the development of life and civilization towards a universal “harmony.”

In amongst all these space age wonders and exhibits from countries across the world was the Belgian Pavilion. Here visitors could find all that was best about Belgium including one small enclosure where the public flocked to pet and feed the exhibits.

Look here comes one now. A middle-aged matron in finely cut dress, coat and hat, wearing early designer sunglasses. Doesn’t she look chic? Let’s watch as this no doubt charming woman leans over the fence that surrounds the enclosure to feed one of the humans inside—a small black girl.
 
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Horrendous isn’t it? Shocking. Horrific. Unbelievable. Like some dystopian sci-fi movie.

But to the 41 million people who visited Expo 58 this scene of unbridled racism caused little concern to the public—no upset, and no fury. No nothing.

You’d think after the racist atrocities of the Second World War that maybe, just maybe, Europeans might have developed a little more respect for their fellow man. But no, apparently not.

Human zoos, where white Europeans could go and see people from other ethnic backgrounds exhibited in cages, or in specially built villages for entertainment purposes is one of the biggest, dirtiest, and most shameful racist “secrets” of European history. Which no amount of saying “the past is a different country, they did things differently there” will ever excuse.
 
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A poster advertising a ‘human zoo’ in Paris.
 
This wasn’t the Middle Ages. This was 1958. The year NASA was formed. The year the microchip was invented. The year the American Express card was introduced. When the hula-hoop was the #1 toy. When Elvis Presley joined the US Army. When Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield were the world’s pinups. When The Bridge on the River Kwai cleaned up at the Oscars and Steve McQueen terrified audience in his fight with The Blob. When the Yankees won the World Series and Brazil took the World Cup. The year the forerunner of the EU, the European Economic Community (EEC) was formed. This is within our pop culture timeline of rock ‘n’ roll, drugs and teenage rebellion. Your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents might even have attended themselves.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
NYC’s Beatnik ‘riot’: How singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ kicked off the 60s revolution
03.07.2016
02:13 pm

Topics:
Activism
History
Music

Tags:

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The protestors were peaceful. They didn’t look like revolutionaries. They were dressed in suits and ties. They were singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

But the cops still attacked them with billy clubs.

In the spring of 1961, Israel (“Izzy”) Young taped a sign to the window of his shop in Greenwich Village, New York. The handwritten sign announced a protest rally at the fountain in Washington Square Park at 2pm on Sunday April 9th .

Izzy was the proprietor of the Folklore Center at 110 MacDougal Street, a shop that sold books, records and everything else relating to folk music. Since it opened in 1957, the Folklore Center had been the focal point for young folk singers, beatniks and assorted musicians to gather together, hang out, talk, play and listen to music.

After the Second World War, Greenwich Village was the gathering point for all the disaffected youth who wanted to escape the conformity and boredom of suburbia. They were brought by the district’s association with the Beats and jazz musicians who had lived and played there during the 1940s and early 1950s. Often their first point of call was Izzy’s shop. Among the many youngsters who visited there was a young Bob Dylan. Izzy arranged Dylan’s first concert at Carnegie Hall. He “broke [his] ass to get people to come.” Tickets were two bucks apiece. Only 52 people turned up—though later hundreds would tell Izzy they were there.
 
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Izzy Young in the Folklore Center circa 1960.
 
Since the late 1940s, folk musicians had gathered at the fountain in Washington Square Park. They brought their guitars and autoharps to play and sing songs. It was peaceable enough but some residents thought the Sunday gatherings brought “undesirables” to the neighborhood—by undesirables they meant African-Americans.

In April 1961, the new Commissioner of Parks Newbold Morris decided to take action. He banned singing in Washington Square Park. As Ted White later reported the events of that fateful day in the park in Rogue magazine, August 1961:

For seventeen years folksingers had been congregating on warm Sunday afternoons at the fountain in the center of the small park, unslinging their guitars and banjos and quietly singing songs. There would be a varied number of groups—perhaps ten or more—rimming the fountain, each singing a particular variety of folk music, from Negro work songs and blues to Kentucky hillbilly bluegrass, with perhaps an Elizabethan ballad from the West Virginia hills thrown in occasionally. As the years passed, the city government began showing an increasing hostility to the use of public facilities by the public, and for the last fourteen years, permits have been required before “public performances” could be given in any park. What this means is that a group of kids singing to each other on a weekday evening would be forcibly silenced by the ever-patrolling police for failing to possess a “permit,” or a young man playing a harmonica to himself quietly while sitting on a park bench might be suddenly ordered, “Move on, you!” and find himself run out of the park.

...

And now the new Parks Commissioner has refused a permit to the folksingers for their Sunday afternoon gatherings. Why? The same old story: “The folksingers have been bringing too many undesirable elements into the park.”

“Undesirable elements?” Yes, healthy young kids, racially mixed and unprejudiced enough not to care, concerned only with having the chance to assemble in the open sun and air and to be able to enjoy themselves harmlessly and happily. Sam Schwartz, a Brooklyn father, told me “Sure I let my kid—he’s a teenager—come and sing here. Why not? It’s a good, healthy activity. What’s wrong with folksongs?”

Ron Archer, a young jazz critic who lives in the West Village (an apparently less troubled area), said “Why shouldn’t people sing in the Square? If Morris is so concerned about the safety of the parks, why doesn’t he clean out the muggers and rapists in Central Park, where it isn’t safe to walk at night? Why doesn’t he go after the local punks who prowl the edges of this park at night? Why take after a group which is as harmless as the old men who play chess here, and who are just about as ’undesirable’?”

“You know what ’undesirable’ means, don’t you?” a name jazz musician told me. “It means ’Negro’. A few of the folksingers are Negroes.”

“I came up here from Mississippi,” says Bob Stewart, a Realist cartoonist who lives in the Village, “to get away from the prejudice, and now I get complaints from my landlord whenever I have a Negro friend up in my apartment.”

“The racial bias is definitely behind the whole thing,” Izzy summed it up. “It’s part of the big squeeze on the Italians.”

In response to the ban, Izzy applied for a permit to sing in the park. It was rejected. He therefore organized a protest rally.
 
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Izzy Young talks to a cop at the start of the demonstration.
 
On Sunday April 9th at 2pm, around 500 men and women—smartly dressed, some in suits and ties and carrying placards—peaceably approached the fountain at Washington Square Park. They were stopped by a cop. He wanted to know who was in charge. Izzy Young made his way to the front of the crowd and talked to the officer. He explained they were allowed to protest peaceably. It was within their constitutional rights to do so. The cop told Izzy they couldn’t sing, that singing was banned. They would be arrested if they broke the ban. Izzy countered by saying singing was a form of speech and they had a right to freedom of speech. He added:

It’s not up to Commissioner Morris to tell the people what kind of music is good or bad. He’s telling people folk music brings degenerates, but it’s not so.

The cops were not impressed. They began to move menacingly towards the demonstrators. Izzy thought if they started singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” the police would not hit them “on the head.” He was wrong. As the demonstrators sang the national anthem the cops started laying into them.
 
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Ten demonstrators were arrested. Dozens were injured. The press hyped the story up as a ‘Beatnik riot’ where some 3000 people attacked the cops. This story was quickly dropped as it was widely known not to be true.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Meet the wild child ‘Tiger Woman’ who tried to kill Aleister Crowley
03.04.2016
12:52 pm

Topics:
Books
Crime
Dance
Drugs
History
Occult

Tags:

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The other morning here at Dangerous Minds Towers (Scotland), while I sat sifting through the mailbag looking for presents and antique snuff boxes, m’colleague Tara McGinley popped a fascinating article in front of me about a wild “Tiger Woman.”

At first I thought this tabloid tale was perhaps about the woman who had inspired Roy Wood to write his rather wonderful and grimy little number “Wild Tiger Woman” for The Move. As I read on, I realized this story of a rebellious singer, dancer and artist’s model was unlikely to have been the woman Wood had in mind when he wrote his famous song.

No, this particular “Tiger Woman” was one Betty May Golding—a drug addict, a boozer, and a dabbler in the occult. She had a string of lovers, worked as a prostitute, had been a member of a notorious criminal gang, an alleged Satanist, and had once even tried to murder Aleister Crowley. This was the kind of impressive resumé one would expect from the original “wild child.” Not that Ms. Golding would have given two hoots for any of that:

I have not cared what the world thought of me and as a result what it thought has often not been very kind… I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement.

You go girl!

Betty May was born Elizabeth Marlow Golding into a world of poverty and deprivation in Canning Town, London in 1895. The neighborhood was situated at the heart of the city’s docks—an area described by Charles Dickens as:

...already debased below the point of enmity to filth; poorer labourers live there, because they cannot afford to go farther, and there become debased.

To get an idea how deprived and “debased” this district was—Canning Town even today “remains among the 5% [of the] most deprived areas in the UK.”  Plus ca change…
 
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A typical London slum 1909.
 
When Betty was just an infant, her father left the family home, leaving her mother to support four children on a pittance of 10/- a week—roughly the equivalent of $1.50. The family home was a hovel with no furniture and no beds. The family slept on bundles of rags, cuddling together to keep warm.

Her mother was half-French with beautiful olive complexion and almond eyes. The struggle proved too much for her and Betty was sent off to live with her father who was then residing in a brothel. Her father was an engineer by trade but he preferred to spend his time drinking, fighting and thieving. He was eventually arrested and sent to jail.

In her autobiography Tiger Woman, published in 1929, Betty described herself as a “little brown-faced marmoset ... and the only quick thing in this very slow world.” She earned pennies by dancing and singing on the street.  After her father’s arrest, she was passed from relative to relative eventually staying with an aunt who described her as “a regular little savage.”

One of her earliest memories was finding the body of a pregnant neighbor hanging from a hook. The woman had caught her husband having sex with her sister.

Her face was purple and her eyes bulged like a fish’s. It was rather awful.

Eventually Betty was sent to another aunt who stayed out in the country in Somerset. Here she attended school but soon the teenager was in trouble after having an affair with one of her teachers.

I can hardly say, in the light of what I have learnt since, that we were in love. At least perhaps he was. Certainly I was fond of him.

When their illicit relationship was discovered, Betty was given an ultimatum.

There was a great deal of fuss and it was made clear to me that unless the ­friendship came to an end it would be the schoolmaster who would be made to suffer.

After a rather tearful scene with my aunt I was packed off with a few pounds.

 
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Betty in her gypsy dress.
 
Arriving in London in 1910 Betty could only afford one outfit:

...but every item of it was a different colour. Neither red nor green nor blue nor yellow nor purple was forgotten, for I loved them all equally, and if I was not rich enough to wear them separately ... I would wear them, like Joseph in the Bible, all at once! Colours to me are like children to a loving mother.

With her exotic looks and green eyes, Betty looked every part the gypsy and was later known for her song “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy.” The novelist Anthony Powell described her as looking like a seaside fortune teller. Betty also delighted in her costermonger background:

I am a true coster in my flamboyance and my love of colour, in my violence of feeling and its immediate response in speech and action. Even now I am often caught with a sudden longing regret for the streets of Limehouse as I knew them, for the girls with their gaudy shawls and heads of ostrich feathers, like clouds in a wind, and the men in their caps, silk neckerchiefs and bright yellow pointed boots in which they took such pride. I adored the swagger and the showiness of it all.

 
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The Café Royal in 1912 as painted by artist William Orpen.
 
At first, Betty worked as a prostitute before becoming a model, dancer and entertainer at the hip Café Royal.

The lights, the mirrors, the red plush seats, the eccentrically dressed people, the coffee served in glasses, the pale cloudy absinthe ... I felt as if I had strayed by accident into some miraculous Arabian palace… No duck ever took to water, no man to drink, as I to the Café Royal.

The venue was the haunt of Bohemians and artists—Augustus John, Jacob Epstein, the “Queen of Bohemia” Nina Hamnett, heiress Nancy Cunard, William Orpen, Anna Wickham, Iris Tree and Ezra Pound.

Betty’s flamboyance and gypsy attire attracted their interest and she had affairs with many of the regulars. She modelled for Augustus John and Jacob Epstein. Being an artist’s model was a grey area that often crossed into prostitution. Many of May’s contemporaries in “modelling” died in tragic circumstances—either by their own hand or at the hands of a jealous lover.
 
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The artist Augustus John looking rather pleased with himself.
 
Betty’s life then took the first a many surprising turns when she became involved with a notorious criminal gang.

In 1914, she met a man she nicknamed “Cherub” at a bar who took her to France. Their relationship was platonic but after a night of drinking absinthe Cherub attacked her:

He clasped me round the waist, pinning my arms… I struggled with all the strength fear and hate could give me.

With a supreme effort I succeeded in half-freeing my right arm so that I was enabled to dig my scissors into the fleshy part of his neck.

Betty escaped to Paris where she met up with a man known as the “White Panther” who introduced her into the one of the ciy’s L’Apache gangs. She later claimed it was this gang who nicknamed her “Tiger Woman” after she became involved in a fight with one of the gangster’s girlfriends. When separated by the gang leader she bit into his wrist like a wild animal.

Now part of gang, Betty became involved in various robberies and acts of violence—in one occasion branding a possible informer with a red hot knife. This experience led her to quit Paris.
 
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Apache gang members or hooligans fighting the police in 1904.
 
To be honest, Betty’s autobiography reads at times like a thrilling pulp novel and without corroborative evidence seems more like fiction than fact.

Returning to London, Betty resumed work as a singer and dancer. She sought a husband and found two suitors: the first died after a mysterious boating accident; the second blew his brains out one fine summer’s day. Betty eventually married a trainee doctor Miles L. Atkinson, who introduced her to the joys of cocaine.

I learnt one thing on my ­honeymoon—to take drugs.

Atkinson had an unlimited supply of cocaine via his work with the hospital. The couple embarked on a mad drug frenzy. They fell in with a den of opium smokers. May’s drug intake escalated to 150 grains of cocaine a day plus several pipes of opium. She became paranoid—on one occasion believing the world was against her after ordering a coffee at a cafe and the waiter served it black. She decided to divorce Atkinson, but he was killed in action in 1917 while serving as a soldier in the First World War.

Betty then met and married an Australian called “Roy”—not believed to be his real name—who weaned her off drugs by threatening to beat her if ever he caught her taking any. However, she divorced Roy after catching him having an affair.

Continuing with her career as an artist’s model, Betty sat for Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer, who she claimed painted her as the Sphinx.
 
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Jacob Kramer’s painting ‘The Sphinx’ (1918).
 
Her notoriety grew after the publication of a book Dope Darling by David “Bunny” Garnett, which was based on Betty’s life as a coke addict. The book told the story of a man called Roy who falls in love with a dancer Claire at a bohemian cafe. Claire is a drug addict and prostitute. Roy believes he can save Claire by marrying her. Once married, Roy gradually becomes a drug addict too.

In the book, Garnett described Claire as being :

...always asked to all the parties given in the flashy Bohemian world in which she moved. No dance, gambling party, or secret doping orgy was complete without her. Under the effect of cocaine which she took more and more recklessly, she became inspired by a wild frenzy, and danced like a Bacchante, drank off a bottle of champagne, and played a thousand wild antics

But all of this was by way of a warm-up to her meeting the Great Beast.
 
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‘Dope Darling’ by David Garnett.
 
In 1922, Betty met and married the poet Frederick Charles Loveday (aka Raoul Loveday). This dear boy (aged about twenty or twenty-one) was an acolyte of Aleister Crowley. With a first class degree from Oxford University and a book of published poems to his name, Loveday was utterly dedicated to Crowley and to his study of the occult.

Crowley first met Loveday at a dive in London called the Harlequin. He liked Loveday—saw his potential and claimed he was his heir apparent—but he said this about many other young man that took his fancy. He was however reticent in his praise for May—describing her as a “charming child, tender and simple of soul” but impaired by an alleged childhood accident he believed had “damaged her brain permanently so that its functions were discontinuous.” This condition was exacerbated by her drug addiction—though he was complimentary in her strength of will in curing herself.

Crowley believed he could save Loveday from the “vagabonds, squalid and obscene, who constituted the court of Queen Betty.”

In his Confessions, Crowley recounted a typical scene of Betty “at work” in the Harlequin:

In a corner was his wife, three parts drunk, on the knees of a dirty-faced loafer, pawed by a swarm of lewd hogs, breathless with lust. She gave herself greedily to their gross and bestial fingerings and was singing in an exquisite voice ... an interminable smutty song, with a ribald chorus in which they all joined.

 
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Aleister Crowley
 
Crowley moved to Sicily where he established his Abbey of Thelema at Cefalu. He wanted Loveday—and to a lesser extent May—to join him there. However, Loveday had been ill after an operation and several friends including Nina Hamnett warned him off going. But Loveday was determined and the couple traveled to the Abbey.

Arriving there in the fall of 1922, Betty and Loveday were soon party to various sex magic rituals under Crowley’s direction. On one occasion, Betty chanced upon a box filled with blood soaked neckties. When she asked Crowley what these were, he replied that they had belonged to Jack the Ripper and were stained with the blood of his victims.

Crowley may have tut-tutted about Betty’s sexual hi-jinks with other men in the club, but he didn’t seem to mind all the fucking and sucking that went on at the Abbey. Betty was unsure about Crowley. She was intrigued by the occult and her superstition kept her belief from wavering. But she never fully trusted him.

Everything came to a head after a black mass where Crowley commanded Loveday to kill a cat and drink its blood. Crowley claimed the cat was possessed by an evil spirit. Loveday beheaded the cat and greedily drank its blood. Within hours he fell ill and died, on February 16th, 1923.

Betty blamed Crowley for her husband’s death and swore revenge—deciding to kill him.
 
More on Betty May and her life of sex and drugs and the occult, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Rock-n-roll Rashomon: Did Jim Morrison really rock out with his cock out onstage in Miami, 1969?
03.01.2016
04:02 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:


 
On March 1, 1969, Jim Morrison allegedly exposed his… er… lizard king to a shocked audience at the Dinner Key Auditorium that included, in the words of feverish Miami Herald reporter Larry Mahoney: “hundreds of unescorted junior and senior high school girls” for whom “…Morrison appeared to masturbate in full view of the audience, screamed obscenities, and exposed himself.”

It’s one of the most legendary and Dionysian performances in all of rock and roll history; but was the supposed “main event” just a legend or did “it” really happen? Did a drunken Jim Morrison, inspired by the anarchist thespians of the Living Theatre, really whip it out onstage in Miami and simulate fellatio on guitarist Robby Krieger or is this all just an urban myth?

It seems to be a little of both, perhaps leaning more to the myth side. Mr. Mojo Risin was obviously up to no good that night, and if given enough rope Morrison might well have pulled his plonker out. But did he actually do it or did he merely pretend like he had?

On March 5, the Dade County sheriff’s office issued a warrant for Morrison’s arrest for “lewd and lascivious behavior in public by exposing his private parts and by simulating masturbation and oral copulation” and other misdemeanors including counts of public profanity and public drunkenness. Morrison turned himself in to the FBI in Los Angeles on April 4, 1969 and vehemently denied the allegations. He was arrested on September 20th in Coconut Grove and on November 9, 1969 he entered a not guilty plea in Miami.

The trial began on August 12, 1970. Morrison rejected a proposed plea bargain that the Doors would play a charity benefit concert in Miami, and although over 500 photographs were admitted into evidence—not a single one of them showing Morrison rocking out with his cock out—five weeks later, on September 20, 1970, the jury found Jim Morrison guilty on the misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and profanity. He was found not guilty on the felony charge and the misdemeanor for drunkenness.

Morrison was given the maximum fine of $500 and sentenced to six months in prison at Raiford Penitentiary including 60 days of hard labor. He was released on a $50,000 bond and a 20 date Doors concert tour was soon cancelled.
 

 
Robby Krieger has always denied that “it” ever happened. So has Ray Manzarek who told NPR’s Terry Gross in a 1998 Fresh Air interview:

“We’re in Miami. It’s hot and sweaty. It’s a swamp and it’s a yuck—a horrible kind of place, a seaplane hangar—and 14,000 people are packed in there, and they’re sweaty, And Jim has seen The Living Theatre and he’s going to do his version of The Living Theatre. He’s going to show these Florida people what psychedelic West Coast shamanism and confrontation is all about.”

Morrison poured champagne over himself and took his shirt off, asking the crowd if they wanted more.

“They hallucinated. I swear, the guy never did it. He never whipped it out. It was one of those mass hallucinations. I don’t want to say the vision of Lourdes, because only Bernadette saw that, but it was one of those religious hallucinations, except it was Dionysus bringing forth, calling forth snakes… And they started coming down on a rickety little stage, and the entire stage collapsed.”

Doors drummer John Densmore told the Hollywood Reporter in 2010:

He didn’t do it! I was there; if Jim had revealed the golden shaft, I would have known. There were hundreds of photographs taken and tons of cops and no evidence. Yeah, Jim was a drunk and a sensational, crazy guy, but he also was a great artist and I want him to be remembered for the art as well as the craziness. At the time, things were pretty political with the Vietnam War—the whole country was polarized, not unlike today—and he went to see Julian Beck and Judith Malina of The Living Theatre and was inspired because they wore minimal clothes and were going up the aisles saying, “No passports, no pieces.” It was pretty wild stuff. Jim tried to inject it in to the Miami concert, and he was inebriated, so it wasn’t so successful. Musically, it was terrible, but politically, it was intriguing. So that was his motive and then it became this sensational, “get the hippie band that represents the counter culture!”

At the time of the incident Doors’ manager Bill Siddons told Rolling Stone that it was “just another dirty Doors show. It didn’t seem to be too big a deal until the police chief took it on as his crusade”—but denied that Morrison had exposed his penis:

“I mean, no one in the group saw him do it. Morrison said he did it, but not onstage. Like he had been tucking in his shirt or something and he might have slipped a little. But offstage.”

Contradicting himself in the very same Rolling Stone article, Siddons also says that as he came offstage Morrison personally told him:

“Uh-oh—I think I exposed myself.”

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The end of an era: Every single Playboy centerfold from 1953 to 2016
03.01.2016
09:54 am

Topics:
History
Sex

Tags:


Miss April 1955, Marilyn Waltz
 
Some kind soul on Imgur who goes by the name theground2 lovingly scanned, uploaded and captioned every single Playboy centerfold from 1953 to 2016. I can’t post all that many of the images on DM for obvious reasons (my God that would take forever), but here’s the link with every centerfold. It should go without saying a lot of these images are mildly or beyond mildly NSFW.


Miss August 1955, Pat Lawler

Someone also made a YouTube video using all 746 images. Again, use your discretion before clicking “play.”

 
via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Pictures of women using boxy office computers from the early 1980s
02.29.2016
11:40 am

Topics:
Amusing
History
Science/Tech

Tags:


 
In early February Tara McGinley ran a really wonderful post on DM with the title “Photos of Women and Giant-Ass Mainframe Computers from the 1960s”—I don’t know if the people at Retrospace were paying attention, but in any case a couple weeks later they ran a pretty rad gallery called “Women at Computers,” which focused on the go-go years of 1979 to 1991.

This is the era in which most of the Michael Fassbender movie Steve Jobs takes place, but you won’t see a single Apple product anywhere in this gallery—in fact, nothing could make Jobs’ case of the importance of his company’s success in that movie better than the clunky DOS-munchers on display here. The big boxy models pictured here in the gray casings are all Radio Shack products—in the early 1980s their signature product was called the TRS-80. Most of the rest are from Xerox, which famously pissed away mountains of valuable interface research in the early 1970s.

For an amusing history of the era in which most of these things were manufactured, you can’t go wrong with Robert X. Cringely’s Accidental Empires.

Added bonus: some of the earliest documented examples of mansplaining in the tech world!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bad Girls: Female criminals of the Edwardian era, a gallery of vintage mugshots
02.29.2016
10:59 am

Topics:
Crime
History

Tags:

Kstobnshields
 
Poverty makes for the most desperate of criminals. Their crimes are born of necessity—to feed, to cloth, to nurture—which can make them careless in their actions. Financiers, on the other hand, can sit and carefully discuss their plans to rob and steal with lawyers and bankers over four hour lunches in luxurious surroundings—picking their teeth, savoring wine. They are usually never careless—they have lawyers see to that—and are hardly ever caught. The poor, meanwhile, are far easier to catch.

The women criminals of North Shields in Edwardian England were usually nabbed for “Larceny”—a catchall common law crime that involved “the unlawful taking of the personal property of another person or business.” This covered deeds as diverse as taking clothes from a washing line, stealing food from a table, or pinching personal belongings—jewels, money, etc. Most of the women who were brought into the police station in North Shields were charged with larceny—though some who were habitual were charged as “Thief.”

In certain instances, larceny could also cover keeping a bawdy house, being drunk and disorderly or having no fixed abode.

Most of the mugshots featured below are of women who have committed a crime out of desperation. Others, are habitual. All have the weary look born of grinding poverty and unrelenting misfortune. Their ages range from teens to late thirties. The photographs were taken at the North Shields Police Station between 1902-1905 and are kept by the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums—you can find more here.
 
susanjoinshirled
 

Reg. No. 52, Susan Joice, Larceny, N. Shields 18-8-1903.

The Shields Daily News for 19 August 1903 reports:

“Yesterday at North Shields, Susan Joyce (16), residing at 17 Front Street, Milburn Place, was charged with stealing on the 15th inst, from a gas meter at a house, 18 Front Street, the sum of 6s 5d, the moneys of the Tynemouth Gas Company. Sarah Nicholson, the occupant of the above house stated that she noticed that the lock had been broken off the meter and the money extracted. Ellen Watson, sister of the accused stated that the later went to her house with her apron full of copper. Altogether there was 5s 6d. She afterwards handed the money over to the police. Detective Thornton spoke to arresting the defendant and when charged she admitted taking the money out of the meter. The Bench imposed a fine of 5s and 10s costs”.

 
AandersonlarcNshield
 

Reg. No. 54, Annie Anderson, Larceny, N. Shields 25-8-03.

The newspaper report of 1 September featured in the comments suggests that Annie Anderson may have been involved in prostitution. This is made more explicit in a report of a later arrest in the Shields Daily Gazette for 21 July 1904, ‘disorderly house’ being a euphemism for brothel.

“At North Shields Annie Anderson (34) was charged with keeping a disorderly house in Liddell Street on July 1st. Sergt. G. Scougal proved the case. Chief Constable Huish said that the prisoner was convicted for a similar offence on March 28th of this year, and committed for one month. Immediately she came out of prison she went back to the room and continued to carry on the house in the same manner as before. The complaints received by the police about it were serious. Defendant, who pleaded not guilty, was committed for three months with hard labour”.

 
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Reg. No. 57, Mabel Smith, Larceny, N. Shields 28-9-03.

 
More mugshots of Edwardian bad girls, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Tricked out final rides: Vintage hearses from around the world
02.29.2016
10:13 am

Topics:
History

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Lincoln hearse, 1924
A hearse made by luxury car maker, Lincoln, 1924
 
Although I must admit that while the title of this post may seem entirely too morbid for a Monday, trust me. I know you’re going to enjoy looking at the images of antique hearses that at one time or another were used not only in the U.S., but around the world.
 
Peugot herse, 1951
Peugeot hearse, 1951
 
Cadillac half-coach hearse, 1930
Cadillac Cathedral hearse by James Cunningham Son and Co., New York, 1930
 
A restored
A restored “funeral car” from Argentina, 1942
 
A hearse from Spain called
A hearse from Spain called “El Gloria” 1932
 
In the early 1920s, motorized hearses pretty much replaced their horse-drawn predecessors. In the U.S., luxury car manufacturers Cadillac and Lincoln produced many hearses, and in Europe automakers like Mercedes (among others) got into the funeral car game. A hearse made by French car company Peugeot exists, as well as a completely bizarre hearse/funeral coach dreamed up by recreational vehicle maker Airstream (originally made in Los Angeles). As death is naturally occurring even around the world, I’ve also posted some ornate vintage hearses from Spain and Argentina, as well as Japan that must be seen to be believed.
 
Japanese hearse, 1970s
Japanese hearse, 1970s
 
More after the jump…

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Young David Bowie seen in newly discovered 1967 NBC News clip
02.25.2016
05:40 pm

Topics:
Fashion
History
Music

Tags:


 
Blink and you’ll miss him: A fashionable young David Bowie can be seen here—for but a split second—in this 1967 footage shot in one of London’s swinging “mod” Carnaby Street boutiques for an NBC News report. The topic seems to be a furrowed-brow examination of the problem of decadent and “licentious” British youth spending all their money on frivolous things, like clothes and having a good time. How dare they!

As goofy as such an attitude might seem now, in 1967 the older generation were truly perplexed and dismayed by the way young people acted and this news report is a memento of that befuddlement on the part of the establishment. Conservative British columnist Christopher Booker wrote an entire book about it called The Neophiliacs: A Study of the Revolution in English life in the Fifties and Sixties. It’s one of the great (largely) forgotten books of the 1970s, although it’s gone in and out of print over the years.

Private Eye magazine co-founder Booker, now an angry old man railing against the global warming “conspiracy,” but then still an angry young one, wrote of what he describes as a “psychic epidemic” which struck British popular culture. His central point in The Neophiliacs is a startling one: During the swinging Sixties a cadre of influential London media darlings (e.g., The Beatles, Stones, Marianne Faithfull, David Hemmings, David Bailey, etc.) exhibited–and were rewarded for–outlandish behaviors, exhibitionist clothing and general attitudes that would have seemed daft at best or completely insane at worst to the previous generation. The widespread veneration of these immature neurotics by working and middle class youth is—according to his thesis—the exact inflection point when society and culture took a radical detour into frivolity and meaninglessness. One quick look at the E! network or YouTube, of course, proves Mr. Booker’s point in spades.

The Neophiliacs is a truly great book, but I’m digressing aren’t I?

Bowie’s cameo is so brief that they even warn you ahead of time. It cuts out as the reporter—for some reason—mentions philosopher John Locke… I do wish I could see the rest of this clip.
 

 
Thank you kindly Spencer Kansa!

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Yakuza: Beautiful hand-painted vintage portraits of tattooed Japanese gangsters
02.22.2016
11:35 am

Topics:
Art
Belief
History

Tags:

011yakuztatts.jpg
 
I had never heard of the Yakuza until I tuned in one night to a Robert Mitchum movie back in the 1970s. Here was big Bob dealing with bad boy Japanese gangsters in a clash of east meets west. The film was simply titled The Yakuza. It was written by brothers Leonard and Paul Schrader—their first hit screenplay and one in which can be seen some of the themes they would later develop individually and together in movies like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Mishima. I liked the film and was greatly intrigued by the rituals depicted in it and the code of honor by which these dangerous, violent gangsters lived their lives.

One ritual in particular, the chopping off of the top of the small finger as a payment or apology for any wrong-doing, I thought bizarre and hardly punishment at all until I later discovered its historic symbolism. The removal of the tip made it difficult for an individual to hold their samurai sword. The sword was gripped tight by the bottom three fingers while flexibility and movement was produced by index finger and thumb. To lose a chunk of a fingertip or the whole pinky was ultimately a death sentence—as the punished yakuza would eventually be unable to defend themselves in a fight.

The film also picked up on the awesome body tattoos these way heavy gangsters sported. Whole bodies decorated with elaborate illustrations of beautiful maidens, tranquil landscapes, and grinning demons. Like bad boy superheroes, these guys could walk around in their suits and ties all day and no one would know they were Yakuza. Come nightfall, in the comfort of their own gangland den, the clothes would come off and the tatts would be displayed.

These tattoos or irezumi as they’re called in Japan—a word that literally mean insert ink—were originally representative of an individual’s spirituality or biography. This lasted for a good two-three thousand years. Then around the Kofun era (330-600AD), tattoos were considered a symbol of being criminal or lower class. Their popularity fluctuated until tattooing was outlawed sometime around the Meiji era (1868-1912), when Japan moved from a feudal world into a unified country. Tattoos were seen as an embarrassing symbol of Japan’s uncivilised past. The practice moved underground—continued by criminal gangs, who tattooed the unexposed parts of their bodies. Hence the all-over body tattoos many yakuza carry to this day on their skin. These tattoos are “hand-poked”—that is the ink is put under the skin by using sharpened bamboo spears or small handmade needles. It is a long, painful and laborious process but one that most yakuza accept as part of the ritual of being a gang member.

The Meiji era also brought an end to the samurai warriors, who were outlawed and conscripted into the army. Some chose to join the yakuza instead—as many yakuza had fought alongside samurai for local shoguns. The issue of body tattoos becomes complicated as there were samurai who sported such irezumi as a means of identification should they be killed on the battlefield. As samurais faded, the criminal fraternity thrived. Today yakuza play a major role in Japan—both in criminal activity (prostitution, money laundering, people trafficking) and legitimately in media and politics. The yakuza keep drugs out of Japan, they also organize charity and aid relief for disaster victims. Most Japanese accept the yakuza as a necessary part of national life. Each yakuza family or gang have their own set of rules and regulations which differ group to group and gang to gang.

These hand-painted photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s depict members of the yakuza displaying their gang related tattoos. Some have posed in relation to their standing within the gang, most have kept their faces hidden, but each has a different style of tattoo inked on their body.
 
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More vintage yakuza tattoos, after the jump….

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